As part of his Yu Darvish-related press conference today, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer was asked about the Cubs’ catching situation – a nod both to back-up Victor Caratini’s inclusion in the deal, and also yesterday’s rumors that the Cubs were “extensively shopping” Willson Contreras.
Hoyer called that report “fictional,” saying only that teams call the Cubs about virtually all their players. The Cubs love Contreras, who is one of the best catchers in baseball, and is under control for two more years. That’s where Hoyer left it.
Is it possible there’s a middle ground there, where Hoyer’s right that it’s not accurate to say the Cubs are “extensively shopping” Contreras, but it’s also true that they’re listening in a way that goes beyond “oh, hey, we listen on everyone”? Yeah. I think it’s impossible to have listened to that whole presser and not come away focused on the Cubs’ desire to add even more for the long-term. It was clear. Hoyer did not hide that ball a bit. So, against that backdrop, given how valuable Contreras could be in trade, yeah, I’m pretty sure the Cubs are open to dealing him if it netted significant impact prospects.
On that point, one other thing to mention from Hoyer, albeit not specifically in relation to Contreras: Hoyer said that, yes, the Cubs may make additional trades this offseason if the right offers come along, but those deals will not be about the money. It would solely be about the long-term view on the talent side, acknowledging the reality that some of their players can leave very soon.
With Contreras, who might make only $15 million or so over the next two years, that point seems obvious. It wouldn’t be much savings anyway, and his talent faaaaaaaaaar outstrips his salary. If you’re even thinking about trading Contreras, you’re thinking about it because the return is overwhelming. In other words, why say the report yesterday was “fictional”? Because the Cubs don’t want teams out there thinking they’re trying to move Contreras’s salary. That’s just silly. In that respect, the original report included mention of Contreras’s salary, too, which I reckon miffed Hoyer a little bit.
Otherwise, on the catching side, Hoyer said that the Cubs would be looking to add a catcher to pair with Contreras – sounded like free agency – and it wouldn’t yet be time for top prospect Miguel Amaya to come up. Unmentioned were P.J. Higgins and Taylor Gushue, currently slated to be the catching tandem at AAA Iowa. Frankly, I wouldn’t hate either of those guys getting a look as the back-up, even if Cubs bring in a veteran option to see what’s what in Spring Training.